Bell Canada Gets into Home Security

Telecom giant Bell Canada has decided to enter the lucrative home-security market, building on its existing wireless phone business.

The new home-monitoring service will offer customers the ability to receive alarms and alerts via email, text messages or through a phone call whenever a security sensor is triggered in their home.

Bell's $300 starter kit comes with a base unit and modem that picks up signals from around the house. They are transmitted to a Bell wireless data network platform that can relay them to the customer.

Home Monitoring is the latest part of Bell's strategy to become a complete Internet services provider, according to Kevin Restivo, a telecom analyst with the SeaBoard Group.

He said home security complements Bell's existing bundle of satellite television, phone and Internet services. "This is to offset the losses of home phone lines, which is a trend that is affecting all service providers around the world," Restivo said.

"Bell has been trying to keep its place in the home for some time."

Bell's traditional land-line business has been suffering from the competition of Internet-based services and cellphones.

The Canadian security market is currently dominated by private companies and a few publicly traded ones, such as ADT and AlarmForce.

Bell estimates the market is worth $640 million annually and is growing by about 5 per cent each year.

Telus Corp., which has land-line phone services in Western Canada and which competes with Bell for cellphone subscribers, has a home security business called HomeSitter, which can notify customers by email or text message when a motion detector around a house is triggered.

Jeff Crews, vice-president at Bell Monitoring Services, said his new business could also act as an elder-care service, with sensors checking whether people are following their routine.